THE LONG HARD LOOK WITH MIKE WILSON
NRL ROUND 25 PREVIEW
Manly Sea Eagles v Brisbane Broncos
Brookvale Oval, 7:35pm (local).
SEA EAGLES: Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua, Jamie Lyon, Steve Matai, Dean Whare, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Jason King, Matt Ballin, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Tony Williams, Glenn Stewart. Interchange (from): Jamie Buhrer, Joe Galuvao, Darcy Lussick, George Rose, Vic Mauro
BRONCOS: Corey Norman, Gerard Beale, Jack Reed, Justin Hodges, Josh Hoffman, Ben Hunt, Peter Wallace, Ben Hannant, Andrew McCullough, Petero Civoniceva, Sam Thaiday, Ben Te’o, Corey Parker. Interchange: Luke Capewell, Josh McGuire, Alex Glenn, Matt Gillett, Mitchell Dodds, Dunamis Lui
MANLY’S THRASHING OF NEWCASTLE last week has seen them elevated into Premiership favouritism for the first time this year. But in devastatingly contrasting style, the Broncos recent run of 5 straight losses has left them teetering precariously at the bottom of the Top 8 with only 2 games left before the finals get underway.
With the Broncos now desperate to salvage a win and secure a place in the finals many would say that now is a bad time to be running into a white hot Sea Eagles line up; but why not test yourself against the best?
These two sides met in Round 10 and Manly were successful on that occasion after they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the final minute of the match. If the Broncos are to exact revenge in this game then they may as well start by trying to shut down the Sea Eagles fullback Brett Stewart who is in scintillating form after clocking up 2 tries, 2 try assists and 10 tackle busts against Newcastle on Sunday.
Manly have won 3 of the last 4 clashes against the Broncos and it’s hard to back against them doing it again at home along with the form they are starting to show on their way to the finals.
Chance of winning: Sea Eagles 69%, Broncos 30%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Sea Eagles
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Brett Stewart to score a try @ $1.50 (Centrebet)
Canberra Raiders v Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs
Canberra Stadium, 7:35pm (local).
RAIDERS: Josh Dugan, Sandor Earl, Jarrod Croker, Blake Ferguson, Reece Robinson, Josh McCrone, Sam Williams, David Shillington, Glen Buttriss, Dane Tilse, Josh Papalii, Joel Thompson, Shaun Fensom. Interchange (from): Shaun Berrigan, Joe Picker, Mark Nicholls, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Jarrad Kennedy
BULLDOGS: Ben Barba, Sam Perrett, Josh Morris, Krisnan Inu, Jonathan Wright, Josh Reynolds, Kris Keating, Aiden Tolman, Michael Ennis, Sam Kasiano, Frank Pritchard, Josh Jackson, Greg Eastwood. Interchange (from): James Graham, Dale Finucane, Corey Payne, David Stagg, Martin Taupau
THE RAIDERS HAVE MADE THEIR WAY into 9th on the ladder and face their toughest challenge yet this week in the form of competition leaders the Bulldogs.
I believe the challenge will be far too much for the Raiders who despite winning 3 of their last 4 games, have only come up against the likes of weaker teams such as the Roosters, Panthers, and an out of form Broncos side. This game will give the Green Machine a true indication of where they stand and I don’t think it’s anywhere near the Bulldogs.
Whilst I think the Bulldogs may slow up a bit before they begin their finals campaign, I don’t see the Raiders exercising the necessary discipline required to foil such a well oiled unit like the Bulldogs.
Bulldogs should be able to take this by 6 or more.
Chance of winning: Bulldogs 75%, Raiders 24%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Bulldogs
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Bulldogs -5.5 @ $1.92 (Centrebet)
Penrith Panthers v Gold Coast Titans
Centrebet Stadium, 3:30pm (local).
PANTHERS: Michael Gordon, Josh Mansour, Michael Jennings, Brad Tighe, David Simmons, Lachlan Coote, Luke Walsh, Sam Mckendry, Kevin Kingston, Tim Grant, Clint Newton, Cameron Ciraldo, Nigel Plum. Interchange: Dayne Weston, Mitch Achurch, Matt Robinson, Adam Docker
TITANS: William Zillman, Kevin Gordon, Jamal Idris, Steve Michaels, David Mead, Aidan Sezer, Scott Prince, Nate Myles, Matt Srama, Luke Douglas, Greg Bird, Ben Ridge, Ashley Harrison. Interchange (from): Matt White, Mark Minichiello, Luke O’Dwyer, Beau Falloon, Brenton Lawrence
WHILST THERE IS NO GUARANTEE that two wins in the final two rounds will give the Titans a spot in the finals, a loss will make the end of the Titans season all but a certainty.
The boys from the Gold Coast kept their finals hopes alive with a win over the Eels last week but it was fairly obvious to see that they are missing Luke Bailey a bit although I’m confident they will improve for this match.
The Panthers are only playing to avoid the wooden spoon and managed to pull one game ahead of the last placed Eels when they managed a get-out-of-jail win against the Warriors last week.
These sides have met 6 times since the Titans entered the comp in 2007 and both have won 3. An upset could be on the cards but I have to tip the Titans who have a lot more to play for.
Chance of winning: Panthers 35%, Titans 64%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Titans
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Titans 1-12 @ $3.00 (Centrebet)
St George Illawarra Dragons v New Zealand Warriors
WIN Stadium, 5:30pm (local).
DRAGONS: Jason Nightingale, Brett Morris, Chase Stanley, Matt Cooper, Daniel Vidot, Jamie Soward, Ben Hornby, Dan Hunt, Mitch Rein, Trent Merrin, Matt Prior, Ben Creagh, Dean Young. Interchange (from): Josh Miller, Leeson Ah Mau, Will Matthews, Jack de Belin, Jack Stockwell
WARRIORS: Carlos Tuimavave, Bill Tupou, Ben Henry, Lewis Brown, Manu Vatuvei, James Maloney, Shaun Johnson, Russell Packer, Pita Godinet, Jacob Lillyman, Feleti Mateo, Elijah Taylor, Micheal Luck. Interchange: Alehana Mara, Ukuma Ta’ai, Sione Lousi, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Konrad Hurrell
IT’S A NEW COACH FOR THE WARRIORS in Tony Iro after Brian McClennan being sacked from the top job with just two rounds left in the season and the side out of finals contention. Iro, who played for the Sea Eagles, Roosters, Mariners, Rams, Rabbitohs and the New Zealand International side has no pressure on him and it will be interesting to see what tactics he employs in a bid to take down the Dragons, who themselves cannot make the finals either. I don’t think a relaxed attitude will help them as that’s what has seemingly has got them into the lowly position they are currently in.
On the other side of the park I reckon we will see the Dragons throw caution to the wind and play some very relaxed footy and a 13+ margin could be on the cards.
Chance of winning: Dragons 62%, Warriors 37%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Dragons
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Dragons -7.5 @ $2.03 (Centrebet)
North Queensland Cowboys v Newcastle Knights
Dairy Farmer Stadium, 7:30pm (local).
COWBOYS: Matthew Bowen, Ashley Graham, Brent Tate, Kane Linnett, Antonio Winterstein, Johnathan Thurston, Michael Morgan, Matthew Scott, Aaron Payne, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper, Glenn Hall, Dallas Johnson. Interchange (from): Anthony Mitchell, Ricky Thorby, Ashton Sims, Scott Bolton, Joel Riethmuller
KNIGHTS: Darius Boyd, James McManus, Dane Gagai, Timana Tahu, Akuila Uate, Jarrod Mullen, Tyrone Roberts, Kade Snowden, Danny Buderus, Willie Mason, Chris Houston, Alex McKinnon, Neville Costigan. Interchange (from): Rob Rochow, Zeb Taia, Adam Cuthbertson, Zane Tetevano, Kevin Naiqama
AS IS THE CASE WITH THE TITANS, the Knights need to win or they can start looking to 2013. The boys from Newcastle played rather pathetically last week and it is probably unlikely that they will turn things around when travelling 2000kms north to take on the Cowboys who are ever motivated to win and inch closer to a possible Top 4 position.
The Knights certainly have enough in their arsenal to take this game down to the wire but the Cowboys have proven to be a class outfit when playing at home and with the likes of Matt Bowen playing some brilliant footy off the back of the impressive Nth Qld forward pack.
The Cowboys have won 3 of the last 4 games against the Knights and are ready to put an end to the Knight’s season.
Chance of winning: Cowboys 70%, Knights 29%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Cowboys
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Matt Bowen to score a try @ $1.75 (Centrebet)
Sydney Roosters v Wests Tigers
Allianz Stadium, 2:00pm (local).
ROOSTERS: Anthony Minichiello, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Tautau Moga, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Daniel Tupou, Braith Anasta, Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Martin Kennedy, Aidan Guerra, Mitchell Aubusson, Frank Paul Nuuausala. Interchange: Tinirau Arona, Brad Takairangi, Boyd Cordner, Nafe Seluini
TIGERS: Beau Ryan, Matt Utai, Blake Ayshford, Chris Lawrence, Marika Koroibete, Tim Moltzen, Benji Marshall, Aaron Woods, Liam Fulton, Keith Galloway, Adam Blair, Gareth Ellis, Chris Heighington. Interchange: Junior Moors, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Matt Bell, Masada Iosefa
THE TIGERS CURRENTLY ROUND OUT THE TOP 8 and like all the other teams hovering between 7th and 11th they are ever eager to win and work towards consolidating a spot in the Top 8.
Their eagerness for victory was on display for everyone to see last week when they took the Bulldogs down to the wire in a game they were probably unlucky to lose. If it’s a sign of things to come in the next few weeks then the Tigers might be about to make a charge but only time will tell. Unfortunately it looks as if any charge they make will have to be without star hooker Robbie Farah who suffered a broken hand in last week’s defeat. Doctors are suggesting he could be out for 4 weeks or more but Farah himself said he is quietly confident of returning next week. Again, only time will tell.
The Roosters have nothing but pride to play for, although it is possible for them to finish last if they don’t win this week and the Eels snatch a victory.
The Roosters have won 5 of the last 6 games against the Tigers including a 42 – 28 drubbing of the Tigers in the middle of this season.
Chance of winning: Roosters 35%, Tigers 64%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Tigers
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Tigers Head to Head @ $1.56 (Centrebet)
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Parramatta Eels
ANZ Stadium, 3:00pm (local).
RABBITOHS: Greg Inglis, Nathan Merritt, Matt King, Dylan Farrell, Andrew Everingham, John Sutton, Adam Reynolds, Sam Burgess, Nathan Peats, Roy Asotasi, Chris McQueen, David Taylor, Michael Crocker. Interchange (from): Justin Hunt, Luke Burgess, Jason Clark, Eddy Pettybourne, Ben Lowe, Jason Clark, Dave Tyrrell
EELS: Jake Mullaney, Luke Burt, Ryan Morgan, Cheyse Blair, Ken Sio, Ben Roberts, Chris Sandow, Tim Mannah, Nathan Smith, Fuifui Moimoi, Nathan Hindmarsh, Justin Horo, Reni Maitua. Interchange: Joseph Paulo, Matthew Ryan, Justin Poore, Taniela Lasalo, Taniela Lasalo
THERE IS STILL HOPE OF THE EELS avoiding the wooden spoon but a loss against the Rabbitohs this week will most likely assure that the unenvied 16th position on the ladder will belong to the Eels in 2012.
Although the Eels would be considered weak opposition, it would do the Rabbitohs a lot of good to put a decent score on them and try to regain some attacking confidence which they have seemingly lost. The Rabbitohs have scored a total of 13 points in their last two matches and a loss here could out them under threat of losing their spot on the ladder in the Top 4. Believe it or not, the Eels have scored 62 points in their last two games.
Head to head it’s been South Sydney who have had the most recent success with 4 wins from the last 4 encounters with the Eels and I’m confident they will make it 5 from 5.
Chance of winning: Rabbitohs 79%, Eels 20%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Rabbitohs
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Eels +13.5 @ $1.91 (Centrebet)
Melbourne Storm v Cronulla Sharks
AAMI Park, 7:00pm (local).
STORM: Billy Slater, Sisa Waqa, Justin O’Neill, Will Chambers, Anthony Quinn, Gareth Widdop, Cooper Cronk, Bryan Norrie, Cameron Smith, Jason Ryles, Kevin Proctor, Ryan Hoffman, Todd Lowrie. Interchange (from): Ryan Hinchcliffe, Jesse Bromwich, Jaiman Lowe, Sika Manu
SHARKS: Matthew Wright, John Williams, Ricky Leutele, Colin Best, Nathan Stapleton, Todd Carney, Jeff Robson, Bryce Gibbs, Isaac De Gois, Ben Ross, Jeremy Smith, Anthony Tupou, Paul Gallen. Interchange (from): Andrew Fifita, Mark Taufua, John Morris, Jayson Bukuya, Tyson Frizell
THE STORM HAVE PUT THEIR SEASON BACK ON TRACK after last week’s victory (lucky some would say) over the Broncos. A win tonight however would go far towards reassuring the Melbourne side that they are still more than capable of beating a top 8 side as we head into the finals.
The Sharks have been posted out at $3.00 to beat the Sharks and have been given a generous 7.5 point start at the line. Their defensive efforts have been up and down of late but I’m convinced they can match the Storm when it comes to the grind and although they may not win, the 7.5 will be more than handy.
Melbourne has beaten the Sharks 5 out of the last 6 times with the one Sharks victory being earlier this year. This time around though, it’s the Storm with the home ground advantage.
Chance of winning: Storm 60%, Sharks 39%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Storm
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Sharks +7.5 @ $1.91 (Centrebet)